Co-parenting can be tough, monumentally tough.
First, there are the inconsistencies in our parenting approach: daddy lets Cygnet eat lollipops; kick a ball in the house; not brush his teeth; takes him swimming when he has green snot coming out of his nose; lets him have a three hour nap in the afternoon when he is due to return to mummy in the evening.
The three hour-long afternoon nap saga is a particular irritant for me at the moment. Cygnet is going through a particularly difficult sleep phase (please let it just be a phase!). He will only go to sleep when I lie with my arms around him on his bedroom floor until he falls asleep. When Cygnet has had a 45 minute nap in the middle of the day this routine lasts twenty minutes or so – that’s fine. When daddy has let Cygnet sleep for three hours in the late afternoon this routine can last for hours. I’ve discussed this with daddy but daddy protests that Cygnet always sleeps perfectly for him. He goes down in his cot at 7pm and sleeps through until 7am.
I don’t know whether to believe him.
Then there’s the stuff I really struggle to get my head around. I struggle with the idea of daddy’s new girlfriend, her two kids, and the time they spend as a happy family of five. I know, I know, I’ve read your blended family blogs and I know that blended family life can be tough. With a blended family with three young children you can guarantee that at any given time at least one of the children will be having a tantrum. I know that the happy family of five is an image rather than reality.
But it is human for us to torture ourselves and I torture myself with this happy family image which includes my son but doesn’t involve me as his mother.
And thirdly, there’s the fact that sometimes Cygnet really does enjoy spending time with his daddy. They go in the carrier on daddy’s bike, they play football in the park and they jump on daddy’s bed. At first I really struggled with this. I told myself that Cygnet preferred his daddy to me – yes I was torturing myself again! Now that Cygnet is a little older the two of us can communicate a bit better. Cygnet can let me know he loves me and that he wants me and that he wants cuddles and laughs and we have fun together. Those hours lying on the floor in our tender embrace are painful for my hips but good for my confidence in my role as a mother.
When I started on this co-parenting journey I believed that for it to work my ex and I needed to be good friends. That felt unachievable because (and I can say this on an anonymous blog) my ex is a tosser, he lacks morals and integrity and we have totally opposing values in life. These became very apparent in the latter stages of our relationship and left some deep scars. It will be a long time before we are ever good friends, or indeed friends at all.
I felt that I was failing at this whole co-parenting thing because I couldn’t see how we could ever be friends. I was torturing myself again!
But now I have come to realise that friendship, in the short term at least, is unrealistic. What is important is that we can cooperate as parents and that we have respect for each other’s roles. Despite the inconsistencies in our parenting approach, we are able to present an amicable façade in front of our son.
In spite of everything, I think we are doing okay at this co-parenting thing.